LeBron James has informed the Miami Heat that he will exercise the option to terminate his contract, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports. The superstar becomes an unrestricted free agent on June 30.
James looked to make $20 million next year with the Heat. He had two years left on his deal. Since joining the Miami Heat in 2010, James has led Miami to the NBA Finals in four straight seasons. The Heat won championships in 2012 and 2013. They lost in five games to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month.
James’s wife Savannah sparked rumors of a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this week by posting a map of Ohio denoting her hometown of Akron. She wrote, “Home sweet home!! The countdown is real!” Though James departed Cleveland in acrimonious circumstances–stringing the city along for an ESPN show documenting his “decision”–the team, which owns the top pick in the coming draft and just hired a new coach, appears ready to emerge from rebuilding mode.
James’s potential departure from Miami will likely set off a cascade of moves from other players. For instance, Chris Bosh, who would attract interest on the open market, may depart now that the team’s best player has announced his decision to pursue a bigger paycheck or a better situation. Dwyane Wade, who performed poorly in the postseason, likely understands that his biggest payday comes in Miami and will not pursue other suitors. James joins Carmelo Anthony in what looks now to be a stacked free agent class.
In addition to the two rings he earned for the Heat, James won a gold medal at the London Olympics and two NBA MVP awards during his time in Miami.